LikeMindedObjects is the studio of artist and designer Elise McMahon. Through her collection of resourcefully designed lighting, furniture, and objects, she hopes to empower us all by enhancing our quality of living. Aside from these colorful, lighthearted pieces that you can pick up in LikeMindedObjects’s shop, the team also works with clients to create custom furniture and lighting for all sorts of public and private spaces. LikeMindedObjects also collaborates on events and exhibitions that explore inclusivity and uniqueness. Squarespace helps Elise out with her website and her shop, making it easy to update her shop with new pieces, making her feel tech savvy while also taking the middleman out of the typical web developer/client relationship.
As you can see, there are quite a few exciting aspects of LikeMindedObjects’ business. So we asked Elise the obvious – how did her business come about?
“LikeMindedObjects officially started about 7 years ago. I had been very casually self-employed for a few years, making furniture for people by word of mouth, teaching woodworking and upholstery at various arts studios in NYC, and intuitively making furniture and sculptures that resulted in what became my first collection. Mostly out of powder coated bent aluminum tubing and perforated metals, hardwoods, and upholstery of leather and hides from friends farms. I was, and am always, responding to the materials in my surrounding environment and at the time I had just moved to upstate New York in the Hudson Valley, and was feeling very inspired by my surrounding community and moved towards solidifying my independent business practices.,” she shared.
Being casually self-employed and relying on word of mouth advertising is definitely a common jumping off point for creatives of all types, but what brought Elise to the point of actually opening LikeMindedObjects creative studio?
She says, “I was constantly motivated as an individual to create special, inclusive situations for social interaction and idea sharing – whether that be through furniture, interior designing, and building or collaborating with artist friends on temporary installations or activations like artist dinners, concept businesses, or education projects. This is what differentiated between a “Design” studio or a “Creative” studio. With the term creative studio I felt I could more properly portray the potential for various roles we could play for a client – from branding, curatorial projects, event planning, or interiors and furniture. I saw these all as fair game in approaching our work. That being said, I have always felt furniture, interior, and product design was the core approach. I believe each object can tell a super potent story, a story of the manufacturing, material and labor, and then ultimately the person who owns and displays this item in their home. We are communicating to our visitors and ourselves what our priorities are with how we operate in our daily life in our unique personal spaces, which pretty much expresses two things – how we spend our time and how we spend our money.”
LikeMindedObjects really reaches wide with its breadth of capabilities and interests. We were curious which part of the multi-dimensional studio came about first and how things progressed from there.
“I think two things were happening simultaneously. Freelancing custom fabrication work in NYC honed my methods of making in a professional context, and then my personal creative practice honed my visual and material voice. When I married those two things together is when LikeMindedObjects came to be what it is. From a full interior to a piece of jewelry, these items are truly like-minded in the belief that there is so much humanity at play in our built environments and accessories.,” Elise says.
With so much on her plate, we had to ask Elise how Squarespace assists LikeMindedObjects in both maintaining their multifaceted portfolio as well as helping to run the e-commerce side of things.
“I am a real DIY gal, so having my site through Squarespace has actually been perfect for me. I love tweaking my pages regularly, updating with new projects and photos. It’s amazing that right when I have something new I can photograph it in my studio and put it up for sale that day. I never really thought of myself as particularly computer savvy, but with Squarespace I feel super comfortable adjusting everything to how I imagine it should be. I can create context around the objects by showing images of installations or interiors that have similar objects, or create click through pictures linked to project pages so people can connect the dots themselves. My parents are artists too, and I remember watching them deal with their website builder 10 years ago, how long it would take to get him to upload anything new and the costs associated. I remember thinking even as a teenager that if I ever had a website I did not want to be beholden to a middle man.”
With so much being created it’s always interesting to learn how an artist pares down what projects to sell and what to start over or move on from.
Elise shared her thoughts on the process. “In contrast to custom furniture/interior design I feel like having the LMO shop, both online and IRL in Hudson NY, allows me to experiment and focus in on more playful product design and furniture collection. It also helps me focus my manufacturing practice towards multiples, not just one offs. I love thinking about what can be manufactured in an artist-style factory. The Hose Lamp or Face Mirrors, for example, have their unique parts and fabrication process but also are consistent with the functionality of other products within the same typology on the market (i.e. “lamp” or “mirror”), but how can we play with the normal assumptions around those items?”
Having the chance to work on so many interesting projects and collaborations must make it difficult to play favorites, but we asked Elise what hers might be anyway.
“I have worked collaboratively on a number of projects over the years, mostly in an art context, but then again I truly believe that when a client hires me for furniture/interior work we become collaborators immediately. This past year, the LMO team created a very special food and game space for the NYC offices of online art gallery platform, Artsy. Their head of office environment, Sean Roland, commissioned us for a new space. He is a great collaborator and brought us on with a lot of clarity of functionality paired with flexibility of aesthetics, which allowed us to explore our most current excitements in materiality and fabrication. We created bleached reuse denim upholstered banquets, powder coated plant stand room dividers, lighting, and colorful formica floating shelving. When it all came together it made a super functional but visually rich space.,” she says.
Rather recently Elise has taken LikeMindedObjects from living solely online to also having a physical presence as a brick and mortar showroom – ENKYU LIKEMINDEDOBJECTS SHOP – located in Hudson, New York, that’s shared with her partner Enky Bayarsaikhan’s clothing line.
She shares, “Alongside a webshop, the showroom really seemed to be the next step towards piecing together what is necessary for a design business. There needed to be a beautiful space to display collections in the interim between creation and purchase. My fabrication studio has projects moving through constantly, of course creating dust and other moving parts, so my finished pieces really needed their own clean reality. Also the storefront we found was previously a photo studio, so we inherited an amazing fully built-out corner NYC wall for taking product photography. It felt quite serendipitous. Another serendipitous element was that a good friend, Enky Bayarsaikhan, was also looking for a storefront for her clothing collection ENKYU. We partnered on the space – my furniture, her clothing. So of course we called it ENKYU LIKEMINDEDOBJECTS SHOP, and the rest is history. We also use Squarespace for our store website and link it to our personal pages, which has been the perfect balance of together but separate business structure.”
So, what’s on the upcoming horizon for Elise and the LikeMindedObjects team as we continue to roll through 2019?
According to Elise, quite a bit! “There are a couple of projects about to launch that I cannot say anything about yet, but keep an eye out for an LMO collection being distributed nationally this summer! Also, I have been working to develop a collection of zero waste upholstered furniture which is so exciting to me, as the typically found upholstery materials we have all come to use are actually made of quite unhealthy petroleum based foams – I am developing alternatives that feel really positive. I am working to further manifest an approach to design that is truly ethical. I want LikeMindedObjects to be deeply conscious of the labor, materials, and impacts of what we make to align with the foundational understandings necessary to respect within a circular economy. This has intuitively been at the core of our products since the beginning, but I feel even more empowered now to follow through on a larger more impactful scale. For obvious environmental reasons that I think everyone wants to get behind this, we just needs to have clearer paths towards making the correct choice, right?”
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